FB Pixel
Environmental Enrichment

Environmental Enrichment for Horses

19 December 2023

In winter, more horses are confined to their stables for longer. When horses are confined for long periods they can become bored and restless. A wild or free-roaming horse travels around 25 miles per day and a horse out in a typical paddock can clock up around 8 miles a day. How far can they travel in a stable? Not very far at all!

To help make being stabled less tiresome, environmental enrichment for horses involves small changes we can make to take the horse a little nearer to its origins as a free-roaming, herd-living, obligate herbivore.

  • Instead of hanging hay in a net at eye level, feed hay from ground level and divide into several portions in different parts of the stable so the horse can move from one to the other, mimicking how horses would graze.
  • Stabled horses are not employing their incisors to bite off their food, so compressed forage blocks are ideal. MeadowBrix are 1kg blocks of compressed Timothy grass and the horse has to gnaw and chew on them, again mimicking how the horse would naturally graze. Feed Brix whole and dry on the ground as a boredom buster. For further enrichment still try mixing up the forage types - our Brix are also available in lucerne (Lucie Brix) and sainfoin (Sainfoin Brix).
  • Ideally a stabled horse should be able to touch a companion, or at the very least have sight of one. Where this is not possible a stable mirror can be helpful.
  • Offer a variety of forage feeds in two or three different feed bowls - for example soaked Lucie Nuts in one, Timothy Chop in another and some soaked HayCare in another.
  • Window or top-door type spaces on all walls of the stable enable the horse to enjoy different views and avoids focus being centred on the stable door. 
  • Fill a treat ball with suitable forage pellets such as Blue Bag Grass Pellets or Lucie Fibre Cubes for those needing a low calorie option. Lucie Mints are another great alternative.
  • Soak feeds where possible. Soaking is beneficial as it aids hydration, increases the volume of the feed (so slows the eating rate), reduces the risk of choke and dilutes stomach acid - particularly important if the horse is prone to gastric ulcers
  • Horses typically graze for 18 hours a day so we ought to provide sufficient forage to cover this period, avoiding gaps without eating of more than two hours.
  • Any form of exercise is beneficial. Even when time is short during winter our horses need time outside of the stable. Short walks out in hand, or even coming out of the stable for 'carrot stretches' can contribute significantly to your horses well-being. 

With a little creativity you will be able to ting of lots of ways you can make your horse's environment more rewarding. Please feel welcome to share your tips and ideas with us. You can contact our Feed Line on 01728 604 008 or by email to info@simplesystem.co.uk.

 

 

Featured Products

Premium high fibre quick-soaking Timothy grass for horses and ponies unable to eat hay.

£19.95

Premium lucerne compressed into 1kg blocks, feed whole & dry to mimic grazing.

£3.00
£21.00
£926.10

Mature Timothy Grass compressed into 1kg grass blocks, feed whole & dry to mimic grazing.

£3.00
£21.00
£926.10

Sainfoin compressed into 1kg blocks, rich in natural minerals & trace elements. Feed whole & dry to mimic grazing.

£3.00
£26.00
£1,146.60

Featured News

Can horses cope with sudden cold weather?

Horses can survive and even thrive in what we consider to be very inhospitable conditions, but they do need plenty of feed to fuel them and keep them warm.

Mud, not so glorious, mud...

Horse ownership and mud - they seem to go together in the winter don't they?

Frost and the increased risk of laminitis

Many of us have seen hard frosts this morning and snow may even be on the cards for some parts of the country later this week. This has the potential to increase the risk of laminitis.